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Irish expert says banning e-cigarettes will lead to more smokers

According to a report on May 8th from the Wall Street Journal, an Irish expert stated that Ireland should not completely ban the sale of e-cigarettes, but rather focus on regulating who can purchase them. This comes after Australia announced a ban on the sale of recreational e-cigarettes in general stores and convenience stores. The Australian government will raise the standards for e-cigarette products, including limiting flavors and colors, to combat the growing black market. It will also require medication-like packaging, reduce the maximum allowable nicotine concentration and volume, and prohibit disposable e-cigarettes.

In Ireland, the size and shape of these devices are similar to highlighters, and nicotine e-liquids are placed inside when sold. There are currently no mandatory age restrictions on the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes in Ireland, but a bill proposing to prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from selling and buying e-cigarettes will be announced in the coming weeks.

Although the Health Service Executive (HSE) stated that it will continue to review new research, it currently does not recommend e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid. It claims that, based on the evidence so far, it is less effective for quitting smoking than nicotine gum or patches. There are also no e-cigarettes authorized by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) in Ireland as smoking cessation medications.

However, the NHS in the UK does recognize the benefits of e-cigarettes for quitting smoking, stating that while they are not prescribed, nicotine vaporization is much less harmful than smoking and one of the most effective smoking cessation tools.

A general practitioner specializing in addiction medicine told the Wall Street Journal that he believes Australia’s ban on e-cigarette sales is counterproductive. Dr. Garrett McGovern, clinical lead of addiction services for HSE, said the ban would decrease the number of people vaping.

“Safer than smoking”

“Some people are in my position, and they think it’s a good thing. They haven’t really embraced the idea of vaping. I’m not one of those people,” he said. “E-cigarettes are much safer than smoking, and we do need to continue with our strategy to make Ireland as close to smoke-free as possible. I believe that e-cigarettes can play a role, as well as nicotine replacement therapy and counseling, and various other interventions.”

“If we’re going to do anything in Ireland, I think we have to look at how many people are vaping…the vast majority of people using these devices are smokers trying to quit, so we should applaud them, and we should put obstacles in their way.”

McGovern said he is in favor of implementing restrictions, such as age restrictions on buying e-cigarettes, which he said should have happened a long time ago.

“Any place that sells them is very tempting, and they’re very colorful in terms of candy, and that kind of thing is wrong. We need to tighten up on that.”

But he added that if we take a more difficult path to access them, we will have more smokers.


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